ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan football squad returned to action after the postponement of last week's game and defeated Western Michigan University 38-21 Saturday (Sept. 22) at Michigan Stadium. Running back B.J. Askew (Cincinnati, Ohio/Colerain HS) ran for a career-high 112 yards on 15 carries and scored three touchdowns, including one receiving.
The Wolverines came out strong, helping the crowd of 109,837 Michigan faithful put the events of the past few weeks behind them. On an afternoon dedicated to the memory of those who have been affected by the national tragedy, the Wolverines played inspired football.
The Michigan defense came out of the pregame moment of silence only to silence the Western Michigan offensive unit on its first few possessions. A group of key sacks stymied the opening Bronco drives, leading to three punts, an interception, and a failed 44-yard field goal attempt.
The Wolverines scored on their opening drive when quarterback John Navarre (Cudahy, Wis./Cudahy HS) completed a 41-yard screen pass to Askew. The running back found open field after several good downfield blocks and some shifty footwork to dodge tackles from several defensive players before breaking into the end zone.
On Michigan's first drive of the second quarter, Calvin Bell's (Simi Valley, Calif./Simi Valley HS) 27-yard reception set up a 37-yard field goal by Hayden Epstein (Cardiff, Calif./Torrey Pines HS), making the score 10-0.
Marlin Jackson (Sharon, Pa./Sharon HS) notched his first career interception, halting a prime scoring opportunity for WMU at Michigan's seven-yard line. However, Michigan failed to advance the ball on the subsequent possession and the resulting punt gave the Broncos field position inside Michigan territory. On Western's second play of the drive halfback Philip Reed ran 37 yards after escaping several tackles. Western capped off the drive with a 17-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jeff Welsh to wide receiver Micah Zuhl.
Quick to respond, Navarre led a five-play drive that advanced the Wolverines 78 yards downfield. A perfectly placed throw from Navarre into Bell's outstretched hands catapulted the Maize and Blue 47 yards down the field and into the red zone. Askew followed a five-yard run with an eight-yard touchdown, diving headfirst over a defender for the last three yards.
With less than two minutes remaining in the first half, Todd Howard (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook HS) set up another Michigan touchdown drive with his first interception of the season. On the ensuing possession, Marquise Walker (Syracuse, N.Y./Henninger HS) made a superb sprawling catch on a 40-yard touchdown completion from Navarre to take a 24-7 lead into the half.
Askew's second rushing touchdown of the game, set up by his tremendous individual effort, set the tone for the second half. He rushed 26 yards, breaking through the shackles of many Western Michigan defensive players.
Western hustled to put its second score on the board, moving the chains 80 yards in just under four minutes. The nine-play drive was led by Welsh, who moved into Western's top five for career passing yards after completing 36-of-58 attempts for 374 yards. He also set school single-game records with his attempts and completions, as well as a career high with his passing yards.
The Wolverines' final tally was engineered by redshirt freshman quarterback Jermaine Gonzales (Pontiac, Mich./Orchard Lake St. Mary's HS), who completed 2-of-2 passes during the drive, including a 34-yard pass to tight end Bill Seymour (Granger, Ind./Penn HS). True freshman David Underwood (Madisonville, Texas/Madisonville HS) rushed for his first career touchdown with 4:04 to play.
The Broncos went 79 yards in 16 plays to finish out the scoring with a two-yard run by Welsh as time expired.
Michigan opens the Big Ten Conference schedule against Illinois on Saturday, Sept. 29, at Michigan Stadium. The game will begin at 3:30 EDT and will be televised by ABC Sports.
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